Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lessons from Leviticus: The salt of the covenant

I may have written about this before.  It seems familiar, but isn't that the way it is?  Some lessons have to be learned over and over again every time we read the Scriptures.

"And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering.  With all your offerings you shall offer salt."  Leviticus 2:13

It might seem strange to us that God cares about the smallest of ingredients withheld from or added to His offerings, but every detail is important and serves as an object lesson for a deeper truth.  Yeast was NOT to be contained in the grain offerings as a reminder of that first Passover when the Lord told them to be ready to flee Egypt quickly- there was no time for their bread to rise.  Also yeast is usually associated with sin in the Bible.  Sin is pervasive in the same way that a little yeast spreads throughout a lump of dough.  Again, I love the imagery. 

So, what about salt?  Why is it significant that our offerings be made with salt?  What does this mean?  What is the salt of the covenant?

Salt is a natural preservative.  It prevents food from spoiling.  In the same way that yeast is associated with contamination, salt is associated with purification.  Charles Spurgeon elaborates on this in his sermon entitled Salt for Sacrifice that he preached in 1887.  "We require a deal of this. Brothers and Sisters, if we come before God with holy things while we are living in sin, we need not deceive ourselves—we shall not be accepted!"  This reminds me of the truth that God desires obedience from us, rather than sacrifice.  He wants us to delight in doing His will more than offering sacrifices.  (1 Samuel 15:22, Psalm 40:6, Hebrews 10:8-9)  I believe right here in Leviticus, the rulebook of the sacrificial system, is a picture of what God really wants from us.  Yes, He's telling Israel to offer sacrifices, but He's also telling them that the sacrifices are useless if they are offered in sin (with yeast) or apart from being pure (without salt). 

But, you might be thinking we're under the covenant of grace, we don't have to obey God.  Oh yes we do.  We're not saved by works, but saved for good works. (Ephesians 2:4-9)  Jesus calls believers to be salt and light.

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men."  Mathew 5:13

In other words, what good are believers if they look and act just like the unbelieving world around them?  Believers are to have a preserving influence on the wicked culture in which they live.  Our obedience should help to slow the rot in the world.  Remember that God told Abraham He would spare Soddom and Gomorrah for the sake of even 10 righteous men.  But, guess what?  There weren't 10 righteous in Soddom and Gomorrah.  There maybe wasn't even one.  (I think Lot was rescued for the sake of Abraham, don't you?)  This helps to explain the complete and utter state of immorality there. 

So as believers we must remember that going to church and paying a tithe, teaching Sunday School, or heading up various ministries mean little to the Lord when we're living lives of disobedience to Him, refusing to confess and repent of our sins.  It's easy to go to church.  It's easy to drop money in an offering plate.  It's hard to die to self and live for Christ.  God doesn't want the one without the other.

What about the covenant of salt?  In acting as a preservative and preventing food from spoiling, salt extends food's shelf-life.  This imagery when applied to the covenant God made with His people emphasizes the long-lasting nature of the covenant, as opposed to it being a short-term agreement. 
"My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips."  Psalm 89:34

So the "salt of the covenant" was an object lesson to Israel on multiple levels reminding them of God's everlasting promise to deliver His people and in return of His desire for their obedience. 



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.